Tomb Raider

After a very leisurely morning, reading and writing in the courtyard of our hotel…

…we decided to see the ruins which, lucky for us, were literally a stone’s throw away. There are only four historic sites here in Kaş: the Hellenistic period Greek amphitheater, the hillside Lycian tombs, the Lycian King’s Tomb and the Hellenistic cistern. The cistern is now a bar/restaurant, so we skipped it; I’ve mentioned the King’s Tomb in yesterday’s post.

The amphitheater was constructed in the 4th century B.C. when the town was known by its Greek name, Antiphellos. It is a simple structure of 26 rows and it is nearly fully intact, although there has been some modern reconstruction around the perimeter and on the floor.

From the top of the amphitheater, only one mile offshore, is the Greek island of Kastellórizo (in Turkish, “Meis”).

From the opposite corner of the amphitheater, I took this picture of Kaş. Our hotel is the white building with blue trim in the center foreground.

We walked around the hill in search of the hillside tombs. There is a single large tomb and a number of smaller sarcophagi, all of which have been overturned and raided for artifacts:

This part of Turkey was known from the beginning of recorded history as Lycia, an alliance of communities across the water from modern day Greece. To give you an idea of how far back the Lycians go (Bronze Age), they were mentioned in Homer’s Iliad and were allies of Troy in the great battle that we remember for its Trojan Horse. We’re talking more than 4,000 years ago, perhaps as many as 7,000.

The Lycians were the Poland of ancient times, constantly the battleground in wars between various Grecian alliances and Persia (today known as Iran). But, the Lycians always managed to come out of the fray as a mostly independent nation.

Until 334 B.C., when the Lycians were conquered by Alexander the Great and occupied by his Greek Macedonians, the Lycians had their own language, but it was lost after the Greek language was imposed on them. The region remained a predominately Greek nation even through its incorporation into the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires and Greek remained the predominant language until well into the 2nd millennium, when Turks moved into the area and the Turkish language took precedence.

I mention all of this because, when we walked back past the King’s Tomb (also known as the Lion’s Tomb because of the carvings along the top), I took another look at the writing around its edge.

And then I realized: the tomb that Dale and I had stumbled upon on our drive from Çıralı to Kaş had the same characters; and, the carving at the top resembled the carving on the Lion’s Tomb. So, I was mistaken, the tomb we found in the hillside during our drive was not Greek, it was Lycian, and many years older at least 4th century B.C.!

Here are a few close-ups of the one we found in the hills on the drive in:

Okay, for you, this may not be such a big deal. But, I felt like Indiana Jones discovering the Temple of Doom.

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